Tony Parra: PNT Staff writer
Family members of a Portales man feel he has not been represented well by his attorney in a trial in which he is being charged for the homicide of a 19-year-old Portales girl.
Richard Baca, 19, is being charged with the homicide of Amber Robinson.
Communication between Baca’s family members and Baca’s attorney, Ray Floersheim, is what family members believe is at the root of the problem. Nellie Baca, Richard’s sister, filed a complaint to the Disciplinary Board, Northern District of the New Mexico Supreme Court. The complaint was sent out on the last week of July.
The Ninth Judicial District Office confirmed receiving a request for withdraw as counsel from Floersheim’s office. A hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. on Friday at the Roosevelt County District Courthouse for the matter.
“I cannot comment on the case as it continues,” Floersheim said on Tuesday. “The family has the right (to file a request) to do so and I respect that.”
Nellie Baca said Floersheim talked to Richard Baca on Tuesday about his intent to withdraw as counsel.
Nellie Baca’s complaint accused Floersheim of not representing her brother well and violating rules of professional conduct. She said she has not been pleased with the way Floersheim has handled the case.
One of the allegations is that Floersheim tried to force Baca to enter into a plea-bargain and when Baca refused, Floersheim acted hostile towards Baca, according to the complaint.
The miscommunication was on display during what was supposed to be a plea agreement on May 16. Baca decided against a plea agreement instead will face a murder trial in connection with the death of Robinson.
He pleaded not guilty and was informed as part of the plea agreement Floersheim told Baca he would get only 21 years. Ninth Judicial District Judge Stephen Quinn told Baca the plea agreement Baca agreed to was for 25 years — 15 years for second-degree murder, a four-year addition because the crime would be considered an aggravated offense, plus six years for the counts of tampering with evidence.
Quinn showed Baca the agreement and asked Baca if he had read it, or had it read to him, before signing it. Baca said no both times.
The request filed by the Bacas also alleges that Floersheim did not assist Baca in going over the jury pool to select a jury, request a complete psychological assessment of Baca or make any effort for a change of venue.
“I’m hoping my brother gets a 30-day evaluation,” Nellie Baca said. “Hopefully he can get a lawyer who will help him. I’ve been talking to him (Richard Baca) every day.”
If Richard Baca is found guilty, he could be sentenced to 30 years for the first-degree murder charge alone, according to Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler.
Robinson was reported missing by her family on April 26, 2004. When her family could not locate her, police launched an investigation and found her body on May 7, 2004, buried in the back yard of the Baca home.
The jury trial is scheduled to take place from Sept. 26 through Oct. 4, according to court documents.